Monday, May 09, 2005

Displays of patriotism

In my post about dopey displays of patriotism, my Anonymous commenter described the opposite problem in England: any open display -- dopey or not -- is discouraged because it may be considered provocative or threatening to (presumably) somebody who is not white or not a citizen. So this item in Andrew Sullivan's blog today caught my eye (scroll down past the cute doggie picture). A conservative commentator wrote Andrew about the increasing tensions in the Netherlands between the native Dutch population and the large Muslim immigrant population:

In January, two schoolboys in IJsselstein were ordered to remove Dutch flag patches from their backpacks because Moroccan students might consider them provocative. It turned out this flag ban is officially in force at many schools.

I know something about the England's colonial history, which could explain why some would view patriotic displays as insults -- although I disagree with this view. But I am unaware of any history between the Dutch and the Muslim world that would create such an underlying menace to displays of the Dutch flag. Is there something I am missing here? The Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular, is reknowned for being one of the most liberal and tolerant societies in the world; presumably it is this openness which led to so many Muslim immigrants finding a home there.

That story becomes even more troubling by this sentence:

Meanwhile Muslim kids have pictures of van Gogh's murderer on their lunchboxes because they consider him a hero, and nobody dares tell them to remove those pictures.

Van Gogh refers, of course, not to the dead painter, but to the dead film-maker and provacateur, who made films decrying the ugly aspects of Islamic fundamentalist and was killed in retribution.

Things like this do make the U.S. problem of too much (banal) patriotism seem preferable to ridiculously pc fears of patriotism. If citizens of liberal, pluralist countries are not allowed to display pride for their countries, it may be easy to forget how important it is to defend them.

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